As the only parents in our families for a long time, we had to decide what year was "old enough" to stop having family birthday parties for the kids. We chose 12 as the last year that we would host them at our house. After that, the kids could each decide how they wanted to celebrate their birthday. We see lots of each of our families around the same time as Mr. Man's birthday in late December, but summer is kind of a lul, and The Boy™ was lamenting that he missed having our summer birthday party because he, unlike myself, likes large social gatherings. So a few years back I put on my big girl pants and started hosting an annual 4th of July cookout. It's kind of a handy thing, because we have also used it in combination with two middle school graduations. This year, in replacement of a "4th of July cookout", we held it in honor of The Boy™ turning 40. I still decorated for the 4th, because he is all into patriotism and red white and blue, so it essentially was our usual cookout, with birthday cake. Being the hostess, and insanely busy that day, would you believe that I didn't take one single photo? I didn't. If you want a general idea of the decor, you can go look at last years post here.
It was a nice day, the weather was gorgeous, we had a good turn out, and this year I bought a kiddie pool and my nieces had a grand time playing in the water. It was also the first time we've had a food event at my house, that wasn't just our little family since I had to go gluten free last summer (Uncle Christmas got relocated to my brothers for my Grandfather, remember?). To say that I was stressing out about this would be a gross understatement. My biggest concern was that it would rain and we'd have to have everyone with their crumb-producing rolls inside the house. Aside from that, I originally was stressing out about keeping me safe. Because even though I was going to make safe side dishes, once the food goes out on the tables, people hold their plates over them, and then all bets are off. So I came up with the idea that I would not put out all the food. We always have left overs, and it was going to be 90 degrees. So I saved the leftovers ahead of time (well, I saved a portion of them, we tossed a lot more food then I would have liked), and I served myself from the bowls in the house before putting the food out on the tables in the yard. I knew that once the food went out, I wasn't having any more from out there. My SIL made a wonderful fruit salad that we talked about how to prepare safely, my BFF brought the fixings for salad and made it in my kitchen, and everyone else who brought things did chips, soda, or rolls. It was a learning experience about how people perceive gluten free food however. I made the same pasta salad that I make every year, that everyone loves, just with gluten free pasta, and it barely got touched. Ms. Thang, The Boy™ and I talked about it after. She thought maybe it was because it was "too dry", and he thought maybe there was too much other food. I pointed out that the big bowl of fruit salad was almost empty, as was the potato salad, and that no one would know that the pasta salad was "too dry" (it wasn't) because they didn't take any. So my huge bowl of pasta salad that sat out for too many hours in the heat got tossed away, because no one wanted to try it with "gluten free" pasta, which is too bad, because it's pretty damn good. Next year, I'll just ask someone else to bring pasta salad and I will go without. I'm not wasting good pasta on them if no one is going to eat it. We bought a cake from the bakery, and I made g.f., allergy safe cupcakes for Ms. Thang and I, that I have made a few times now this year (and are amazing!), and we had them, along with C.(who has had them with us and knew they were amazing), and her niece (who is eating gluten free right now for reasons none of us can figure out but she's being persistent with it so they are supporting her) in the kitchen after everyone had cake out in the yard. After all was said and done, all the leftover food from the cookout went into the trash, my kitchen stayed uncontaminated, and the day was a huge success.